Yvette brings folk music heritage to life

One of Cecil Sharp's Somerset singers

Some of Cecil Sharpe’s photographs of Somerset singers

Yvette Staelens

Yvette Staelens

Cecil Sharp on his collecting journeys around Somerset

Cecil Sharp on his collecting journeys around Somerset

From Cecil Sharpe's field notebook

From Cecil Sharpe’s field notebook

Focus on: International folk song performer and lecturer Yvette Staelens, who will present a special Festival night celebrating Somerset folk song.

People interested in finding out about their folk music heritage are in for a rare treat during the Festival when international performer and lecturer Yvette Staelens presents The Lost Singers of Somerset at Appley Pavilion, near Ashbrittle and Stawley.

Yvette, a Research Fellow at Bournemouth University, who lives in Taunton, brings to life wonderful folk songs from the journeys and photographs of Cecil Sharp, founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early 20th century, and her work helps villagers make links with their past.

“I focus on bringing singing back to the communities, helping people connect with their ancestors – so at Appley Pavilion I’ll be looking at those who once lived in these parts, bringing out their stories and songs,” she said.

Often the songs have been taught in school over the years (in a sanitised version), but Yvette goes back to the originals. “Some are a bit bawdy, but fun. There are choruses and refrains, and I hope people will join in so that we can celebrate Somerset folk song together.”

Yvette herself is a Natural Voice Practitioner who believes everyone can sing. She leads singing workshops, directs community choirs and is a musician and composer.

Along with her research she also publishes, performs and lectures internationally on English folk song. A project with Somerset County Council saw the publication of 20,000 copies of the Somerset Folk Map, and led to major research with The Singing Landscape Project, for which she received a grant of over £200,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It aims to re-connect families with their singing ancestors and has led many to do so.

Together with Cecil Sharp’s wonderful photographs of our forebears, her own research and singing work, and another project she’s involved in with Somerset Museum’s ‘Just Singing’ room, Yvette Staelens is making sure the county’s song heritage is not lost – but very much discovered and appreciated.

To find out more about the event visit 2013.10parishesfestival.org.uk/events/179/The+Lost+Singers+of+Somerset

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